So what obscure Aberdeen – Australia connections can be blogged about in the MTC style on Australia Day?
Well I could start by the most obvious one, the fact that there’s an Aberdeen in the Hunter Valley in New South Wales – and I’m sure I’m not alone in having stopped there and taken a photo at the town sign (sadly in pre-digital camera days) to bring back and pin on a wall in the granite city, but that’s a bit too obvious for an MTC blog post.
What about some architectural reference? Yes of course, London’s Australia House “the oldest Australian diplomatic mission and … the longest continuously occupied foreign mission in London” designed by our very own A. Marshall Mackenzie & Sons – yes, that’s right, the self same same folks who created the “new” front to Marischal College and of course the magnificent Union Terrace Gardens that to this day form the green heart of the granite city.
What about something more recent? Something political? Well there was the visit to Darwin by Gordon McIntosh, Aberdeen City Council’s Director of Enterprise, Planning & Infrastructure late in 2011. Not very much has appeared in the public domain about this visit. Not suggesting there was anything particularly shonky about this trip just that with public finances tight, there should be a clear business justification for all council expenditure – trips from North East Scotland to Australia’s Northern Territories included. Being up front about expenditure helps build trust with the public. So what was the business case for this trip? If it was paid for by the public purse then the public have a right to expect that travel was at economy class – lowest price, non-flexible. If the trip was paid for by someone else then who paid? Why? Did anyone accompany Gordon? Who was visited? What meetings were held? What was the relevance of each meeting to the Aberdeen Council Tax Payer? What expenses were incurred what hospitality (including gifts) were received – and from whom? If you’ve seen this information in the public domain then let me know. Not seen anything of note on the council website about the purpose of the trip, only thing I can find is from a website in the NT which has this interesting snippet about Gordon’s speech in November 2011 :“Gordon McIntosh noted oil and gas industries sought cities that offered safety, health facilities, fully integrated transport network (Aberdeen’s include hydrogen powered buses).”
I’m assuming that the Aberdeen in the Hunter Valley hasn’t introduced any Hydrogen buses and that this comment refers to “our” Aberdeen, well back in November 2011, Aberdeen didn’t have any hydrogen powered buses that I’m aware of. In fact “our” Aberdeen doesn’t even have an integrated transport system let alone “fully integrated transport network” – it has a barely functional bus network run by First for private profit, not public transport. Interesting then that on 25th January 2012, ACC made a press release about hydrogen buses saying that “The project will see the first hydrogen bus deployment in Scotland, with up to a dozen buses operating in the North-east“. That last statement appears to back up the earlier assertion that there were not any Hydrogen buses in Aberdeen in November 2011.
So what exactly did Gordon say in his briefing? Who knows. Maybe there was an error in transcription by the bloke from Darwin – but this wouldn’t happen if the full text and any accompanying material used in all presentations given by council staff on official business was posted on the Aberdeen City Council website to allow them to be subjected to public scrutiny. If it wasn’t “official business” then the citizens shouldn’t be paying for the council staff members trip or time. If an attempt is made to hide the material behind “oh its confidential” then a citizen has the right to ask “then why the XXXX were you presenting it to some blokes in Darwin?“
Strewth it’s late – grab a stubbie from the eskie, bung another snag on the barbie and enjoy your Australia Day!